This Was John Lennon's Final Phone Call Before His Death

John Lennon's murder remains one of the most tragic events in the history of popular music. At the time of his death, he and his wife, Yoko Ono, had just released the album "Double Fantasy," and despite the fact it got tepid — and in some cases, brutal — reviews from many critics (via Salon), we can now look back with the benefit of hindsight at what was a strong comeback for an iconic performer who had spent the last five years focusing on his family. However, that comeback came to a depressing end on the night of December 8, 1980, when Mark David Chapman fired five shots at the ex-Beatle, who was pronounced dead less than an hour after the shooting.

The sad reality is that potentially violent fans (or former fans) are everywhere, and there was no way to predict the tragedy that took place outside the Dakota Apartments in New York City. With 10 years gone since the Beatles disbanded, Lennon had just effectively resumed his successful solo career after a long hiatus, and things were looking up for him. And based on what we know about the last phone call he ever made before his death, it looked like the then-40-year-old was also looking forward to coming back home to Liverpool and, at the very least, reconnecting with a certain family member who had played a key role in his upbringing.

John Lennon's final phone call was to his Aunt Mimi

It appears that John Lennon's last phone call of note prior to his assassination took place the night before — when he got in touch with his aunt Mimi Smith, who, together with her husband George, became John's legal guardian when he was around 6 years old, as noted by the Beatles Bible. Unlike John's free-spirited mother Julia, who remained a part of her son's life until her death in 1958, Aunt Mimi was the exact opposite, a rigid disciplinarian who did not take kindly to her rebellious nephew's desire to become a rock 'n' roll star (via The Daily Express). The two frequently clashed, as most teenagers and their no-nonsense parents or guardians would, but they shared some similarities, including a dark sense of humor that helped them bond with each other.

Even as he was creeping into middle age, John Lennon never forgot how his aunt cared for him when he was younger, and he called her on a weekly basis while he was living in New York. On December 7, 1980, John and his Aunt Mimi spoke for the very last time on the phone, and in 1981, she responded to a letter from the Daily Express' Judith Simons, sharing what she and her nephew discussed during that call. "He phoned the night before, witty, funny, bubbling over with excitement, coming over very soon," she wrote. "Couldn't wait to see me. So I'm glad of that."

Why did Lennon really want to return to the U.K.?

According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn (via the Sunday Post), John Lennon and Mimi Smith's final phone call might have corroborated rumors that he was indeed planning to return home and do a British tour for the first time in a decade. However, Lennon might have had other reasons for flying back to the U.K. aside from reconnecting with family and friends and promoting his new album. This was evident in another call he made shortly before he was murdered.

As quoted by the Daily Express in 2013, Lennon's childhood friend Joe Flannery wrote in his memoir "Standing In The Wings: The Beatles, Brian Epstein And Me" that during their last conversation on the phone, the musician seemed worried that Richard Nixon — then several years removed from his resignation from the U.S. presidency — was still out to get him for his political activism. "John launched into a diatribe against the former president," Flannery explained. "He was convinced that even out of office Nixon carried power and wanted him dead. He felt some kind of curse was hanging over him."

Flannery went on to reveal that he felt concerned by his longtime friend's supposed paranoia and his desire to "come home in a blaze of glory" aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner, implausible as it was. That said, he was happy to have had such a "wonderful" talk with his old mate, though he had no idea that not long after that call, Lennon would be dead.